Cast: Mitchell Goldberg, Skyler Gallun, Clark Furlong, Reid Scott Richards
Crew: Producers: Laura Bennet – Screenwriters: Brady Evan Walker
Eugene, a Russian emigré living with his daughter’s family in the US, drills his grandson Sacha in chess. Sacha begins at age four, and continues under Eugene’s tutelage for over a decade. He develops into an outstanding player. Eugene is stern and unforgiving, which together with his disapproval of Sacha’s sexuality leads to tensions between them that Sacha struggles to come to terms with.
Danish-born filmmaker Lars Fuchs arrived in the U.S. as an infant in the ’60’s, and has made New York City his home ever since, notwithstanding sojourns in Europe, Hong Kong, and Puerto Rico. He was irredeemably lost to film at Cornell University, where an introductory film- making course tempted him away from a career as a computer programmer. He’s logged decades of experience as a film and television editor on three continents. Lars was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for his work on “ While You Were Out”. His short documentaries have earned award at many international festivals. Lars teaches film as an Adjunct Professor at the City College of New York and elsewhere. He’s currently developing a feature comedy set in New Zealand.
The inspiration for Zugzwang sprang from a story of a young man I know who’d become an excellent dominoes player under the tutelage of his grandfather. I assumed that he must really enjoy the game, but he pointed out that his feelings for the game never really entered into it. His grandfather simply insisted he master the game, brooked no dissent, and enforced a strict regimen of practice. This brought up many interesting feelings for me. I never knew my grandfathers. They had both passed away before I was out of diapers. I was at once shocked at such domineering behavior on the part of a grandparent, but also envious of the attention and coaching lavished on my friend. This interplay of emotion immediately suggested a film to me. Serendipitously, the opportunity to create this film arrived in the form of an opportunity to create a film for an annual event with a different theme every year – in this case “Unfinished Business”. The showcase is organized by The Film Shop, a New York City-based filmmakers collective of which I am a member. Another member, Brady Evan Walker, was equally intrigued by the idea and undertook to write the script. It was his inspiration to re-frame the story around a chess in a Russian-immigrant family, as he would be able to draw on personal experience. It has been a blessing to collaborate on this film with a wonderful cast and crew, who have honored me with their hard work and creativity. With their help I feel I have succeeded in capturing the emotions that inspired the film. Enjoy!